The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the day of her wedding, Celie is attacked by one of Mr. ____'s children, the oldest boy, aged twelve. This boy, who is later revealed to be named Harpo, hates Celie and is still distraught over the death of his mother, Annie Julia, Mr. _____'s first wife. Harpo hits Celie with a rock. Celie finds out that Mr. _____ has four children, not the three she had initially heard about—two boys (Harpo and a younger boy named Bub), and two unnamed girls.
Ironically, it is Harpo, whose initial aggression toward Celie is so shocking, who will be the only of Mr. ____'s children to develop a loving relationship with Celie. The two younger girls, whose hair Celie braids, get pregnant later in the novel, and run away from Mr. ____'s home. They are not heard from again.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie tries, after the wedding ceremony, to detangle Mr. ____'s daughters' hair, and realizes the two girls haven't had baths since their mother's death. The girls go to sleep angry with Celie, because their heads hurt after the detangling. Celie lets Mr. ____ have sex with her, and thinks of her sister Nettie's safety, and then of Shug Avery, during the act.
This scene foreshadows another scene of hair detangling, when Celie combs out Shug's hair. In that latter case, however, Shug greatly appreciates Celie's efforts, and writes a song during the detangling she later dedicates to Celie.
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon